Lisbon

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I took a little trip down south to experience the colourful city that is Lisbon. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and while it’s going to be hard top pick the best parts, here’s some of our favourite parts… :)

On our first day, we went to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, an old monastery in typical Portuguese style belonging to the UNESCO world heritage. It’s located in a part of Lisbon called Belém. I honestly believe that if you’d give me a book and a nice drink, I could spend all day there; reading, watching people, enjoying the scenery.

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In Belém, we skipped the long queue at Pasteis de Belém because we figured it was a tourist trap. Instead, we spent our time roaming around the severely underrated botanical gardens, Jardim Botanico Tropical.  Really, it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves, with only a few street cats lazing around and a peacock or two (three, four,…) crossing our path. If you’re an exotic plant lover like me and you love to discover hidden nooks and crannies in parks, this is your place. We felt like we were in a different continent.

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On our second day, we went to Castelo de Sào Jorge, the main fortress built on one of the seven hills that form Lisbon. It overlooks the city and the Tagus and the views do not disappoint. It’s hard to move away from the edge and stop taking pictures of the abundance of colourful houses.

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To many of the disadvantages of visiting the city built on that many hills, there is one major plus side: there is a multitude of viewpoints spread across all neighbourhoods in the city. One of my favourites included the Miradouro Portas do Sol. Sipping cocktails while overlooking the tiny streets of Alfama makes for the ultimate summer holiday vibe.

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Our third day in Lisbon took us a little bit outside the city. We’d booked a small group tour to Sintra, Cascais and Cabo da Roca. If we’d known how little time we got in Sintra, we’d have probably preferred to spend a whole day there and just skipped Cascais. Cabo da Roca was worth a visit though. Plus we were thinking the view on Pena Palace would be a best from the Moorish Castle just across. Maybe next time?

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Cabo da Roca is the most Eastern point of Europe and that means it provides anyone daring enough to look over the edge with magnificent coastal cliff views. Again, wish we could have spent more time here instead of Cascais, which was a disappointment.

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Another cool place with a little bit of an edgy vibe is LX Factory. This market is located in an industrial area between the centre of Lisbon and Belém. All shops are located in old factories. Hipster central, pretty much. My favourite included a book store (no surprise there, right?) that was set up in an old press room. Also, do not, I repeat, do not skip the Landeau chocolate cake. I still have dreams about it sometimes. From there, it’s only a short walk along the Tagus river to the cozy harbour, Doca de Recreio de Santo Amaro.

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Other than that, we spent most of our time roaming around the city, enjoying a multitude of things that are easy to find in Lisbon: eating pasteis de nata, sipping cocktails, photographing and admiring the azulejos and not minding getting lost in the small, colourful streets of the city.

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Also, one golden advice: download the Uber app and use it in this city! It’s the cheapest, easiest way to get around. We tried the public tram system, which was more expensive and waaaay too crowded. Your burning thighs will be grateful. The hills are no joke, take walking shoes (with a non-slippery sole preferably).

Are there any other places in Portugal that we need to put on our bucket list?

Love,

Silke

10 Things To Do in Vancouver

1. Lynn Canyon 

Basically the Capilano Suspension Bridge’s little sister. A tad smaller, but without the big groups of tourists. Plus the area feels less like a tourist attraction, but more like a national park.

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2. Bike around Stanley Park

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s best known and biggest park. It’s kind of located on a peninsula, which makes that it is surrounded by water. Although it’s doable, the park is best explored by bike. The tour around the island is only 8km, it’s very easy and a bike can get you from one sight to the other all under the time limit of one day. Make sure to get off your bike and explore the park: it is GORGEOUS.

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3. Vancouver Aquarium

Located in Stanley Park, it’s an easy stopover on the way and it makes for a nice break from cycling. It’s a very nice and informative place to learn more about aquatic life, however, it is crowded.

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4. Walk along the city’s Waterfront

All the way from Yaletown to False Creek, there is a boardwalk that gives you a view of the city from the waterfront. It’s peaceful, has lots of things to see on the way and especially good to pay a visit around sunset.

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5. Capilano Suspension Bridge 

Although I did mention Lynn Valley (and Canyon) as well, I still really enjoyed Capilano. I wouldn’t just trade one for the other. They’re both pretty cool. Capilano is easily accessible from the city with the free shuttle bus service provided by the park.

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6. Eat poutine

We had our poutine at Fritz, and I have to say it was the best one on my whole Canada trip (I had two more in the 3 weeks that followed, sorry not sorry). It’s probably the greasiest, unhealthiest and most disgusting national dish I’ve ever seen and I can pretty much feel my arteries clog up by simply looking at the picture below, but this just goes to show that you should not judge a book by its cover. It’s pretty good.

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7. Take the cable cart (or hike up) to Grouse Mountain

Unfortunately we had booked our tickets for a very, very foggy day. I was, we couldn’t see the view of Vancouver and the sky lift that we had booked was pretty much useless because we couldn’t see anything. Bad luck, but I’m guessing the mountain is a pretty spectacular place on a sunny day (so maybe, pro tip: wait to book your tickets!). Nonetheless, we still had a great day with the Lumberjack show, trying to spot the bears (but seeing a wild deer instead) and watching all the hikers reach the top of the mountain hot and sweaty after doing what is called The Grind (a hiking trail of 2.9 km consisting almost solely out of stairs having thus an elevation gain of 853 metres).

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8. Enjoy the hustle and bustle of city life

Despite being one of Canada’s biggest cities, Vancouver is one of the most enjoyable cities I’ve been to. It’s green,it breaths open-mindedness and is colourful in every way possible. (Window-)shop, enjoy the varieties of food,…

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9. Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery

It’s not very big, but if you’re lucky there will be some nice exhibitions on. What I would definitely recommend is visiting the museum’s café, though. It’s like a secret garden, away from everything right in the centre of the city AND their food is pretty great.

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10. Walk around on Granville Island

Granville Island has everything you need if you are looking for a relaxing afternoon or a good lunch spot. It’s got the waterfront, cute shops, a nice atmosphere and a great food market. If you weren’t hungry before going in, you definitely will be by the time you come out.

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What are you waiting for?